Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
A number of Maltese companies are under investigation by the European Union’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, EPPO, in connection with a fraudulent scheme originating in Romania.
According to an OLAF press release, some €15 million in EU funds meant to be divided between six IT projects for “the development of innovative software solutions” were syphoned off by fraudsters who used fake or altered invoices.
Several legal entities in Malta are suspected to have formed part of a “fraudulent international financial circuit” and were placed under investigation. In addition to Malta, companies in Cyprus, Czechia, Monaco and the United States were also investigated, and 38 home searches in Romania were carried out.
An EPPO press release stated, “Between 2019 and 2022, the beneficiaries of the projects submitted false or inaccurate documents with overvalued services or services that were never provided, as well as fraudulent invoices for the purchase of goods – thus unduly obtaining funds from the EU budget of at least €15 million.”
Romanian media sources reported that one of the main suspects in the alleged fraud is IT company Cymbiot Solutions regarding funding for their RARE software platform.
But funds were syphoned and laundered through several offshore companies, including Malta, instead of being used for their intended purpose.
OLAF Director General Ville Itälä described the investigations with EPPO as “a joint success”, adding that fraudulent activity is “often an international business.”
When contacted by The Shift, OLAF said they cannot give any information on the investigation to protect ongoing investigations and “possible ensuing judicial proceedings.”
Companies set up in Malta have been repeatedly implicated in numerous fraudulent schemes involving money laundering, for example, online gambling companies licensed and registered in Malta, which are often vehicles for illicit schemes.
Last December, a study presented to the European Parliament found that €4 billion in ill-begotten funds were laundered in seven years through Malta’s online gaming platforms alone. The study was described as showing just “the tip of the iceberg.”